Hillel Milwaukee Student Board has gotten more active and has been planning and running events with a new sense of independence, according to Hillel Milwaukee Executive Director Deb Fendrich.
“They are actually putting programs on the calendar and are bringing us opportunities,” Fendrich said. “The student board said, we want to do Havdalah and we want to do a game night. They created it, promoted it and got people there.”
The Havdalah and game night in February went well, said Student Board President Matty Powell, 21. “There was no staff member there,” she said, adding that she appreciates “knowing that the staff at Hillel trusts us to run an event on our own.”
The game night and Havdalah were virtual. During the pandemic, Hillel Milwaukee activities are generally virtual, but the building is open and staffed for students to walk in, Fendrich said.
Powell is a fourth-year student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, majoring in community engagement and education. The Student Board is comprised of Powell; Sima Meadows (UWM), executive vice president; Ben Stern (UWM), marketing/social media chair; Jordan Pajeau (Marquette University), tikkun olam/social justice chair; Michaela Brooke (Marquette University), Jewish life and learning chair; and Shir Bloch, (Marquette University) Israel chair.
Board members are not afraid to reach out or accept criticism, Powell said. “They’re not afraid to put themselves out there,” she said.
The rejuvenated board got started with help from Director of Jewish Student Life Anna Goldstein, who attended a first board meeting and now meets before each meeting with Powell, without attending. “It’s really totally student led,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein said student-led events can be more successful.
“They want to get their friends to come. The other students see that this is student led,” she said. “They want to support their peers.”